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Te Papa is without doubt the ultimate in national museums, blending the cultural history of the Maori people with the Pakeha (those of European descent), delving deep into the prehistoric past of New Zealand and journeying into the future. Set in the country's capital Wellington, the $317 million complex opened in February 1998 and had attracted more than four million visitors by mid 2000. No visitor should miss this blend of static exhibitions and mind stretching interactive displays.
The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, to give it its full name, has attracted thousands of visitors who have never been to a museum before and is very popular with young people. Its Time Warp Ride 'Blastback' take visitors back 65 million years into New Zealand's prehistoric past, Future Rush races into the Wellington of 2055, and Virtual Bungy takes you straight down 102 metres into Skippers Canyon, the country's highest bungy jump. These virtual experiences come at a small fee, but general admission to Te Papa is free.
Te Papa's permanent exhibitions the magnificent Te Marae, a 21st century version of a carved wood Maori meeting house, a presentation of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi by the Maori and the British, founding modern New Zealand, and Mana Whenua tracing the history of the Maori people and their discovery of the country. Awesome Forces lets you feel the enormous volcanic forces, which formed New Zealand, Bush City takes you into living native bush, and On the Sheep's Back explores the wool industry which has long been a major part of the economy. You can experience the cultures of other Pacific countries, trace the experienced of immigrants to New Zealand, explore its art, and enjoy touch-and-feel exhibits and games in its four Discovery Centres. These are fun hands-on learning centres designed for children, but very popular with adults. There is an amazing junk shop which come alive as you walk in, and an exhibit tracing the life of an Iwi who inhabited the far north of New Zealand before the Maori arrived. Relax and rest you feet in the Aotearoa Room with some of its collection of superb books.
Te Papa also features visiting exhibitions, lectures and concerts. They change frequently and you need to check what's on during your visit.
Time Warp is the entertainment heart of Te Papa with two high tech virtual time travel experiences. Blast back takes you 65 million years into the past to the formation of the island country. It includes an encounter with the giant Moa, a huge flightless bird long extinct. A young virtual guide called Rima takes you into the Wellington of 2055 in Future Rush. Travel with her through a stunning laser display, fly around in a car of the future, and visit a super-modern house.
Time Warp includes several coin operated experiences like the gut-wrenching bungy jump 102 metres into Skippers Canyon. Whale Ride takes you on a gentle underwater journey while the Magic Lilo floats through beautiful scenery. You can try your hand at shearing a virtual sheep, go water skiing, windsurfing or take part in a dragon boat race.
Group tours are available for a minimum 10 people by arrangement. These are based on five themes and can be tailored for school and student groups. They include Ancient Lives, Te Papa Highlights ranging from a Maori greeting to a Time Warp ride, Backstage Te Papa which takes visitors behind the scenes to see how artifacts are managed and preserved, and New Zealand Treasures which focuses on arts and history.
Combination packs are a great way to make the most of a visit to Te Papa at a considerable saving. All are available with or without car parking. Te Papa Daytripper includes vouchers for Time Warp Blastback, Future Rush and Virtual Bungy, an individual Audio Guide unit, the printed Te Papa Explorer Guide, a restaurant food voucher, a photograph and postcard from the Te Papa Store, and the comprehensive 48-page colour guide to the entire museum. Te Papa - A Souvenir. Te Papa Extreme is similar except the food voucher is for a sandwich lunch and it excludes the audio guide. If you decide to skip the Time Warp experience, Te Papa Classic provides an Audio Guide, the Te Papa Explorer brochure, Te Papa - A Souvenir, and a snack voucher at Foodtrain.
The Te Papa Store on Level 1 has a tempting range of gifts, souvenirs, games and books relating to its exhibitions. You can also but original art and craft works by some of New Zealand's top painters and artisans. The Time Warp Shop is a great favorite with young people and features a range of educational toys, clothing and stationery.
Te Papa can easily hold you enthralled for half a day or more, so the rumblings you feel may be closer to home than the Awesome Forces exhibit. Keep up your energy with a sandwich or a light lunch at Foodtrain on Level 1with its casual indoor and outdoor dining geared for families. Children's snack favorites are a specialty. The Espresso Bar on Level 4 is a meeting place for adults serving great coffee, pastries, wine and drinks. Te Papa also boasts a fine dining restaurant with superb views of Wellington Harbour. Icon Restaurant has already won some of New Zealand's most prestigious awards. Enjoy a superb lunch or brunch on weekends.
Daily from 10am to 6pm, Thursdays until 9pm.
Cable Street, Wellington - on the waterfront. Parking available from $2 an hour up to a maximum $6 a day.
Please contact us for rates information.
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